When Media does more harm than good

Last week, I watched the premiere episode of a new series on NBC titled Shades of Blue.  Having worked in law enforcement for most of my working life, I usually like to check out any new cop shows.  I figured it must be quite a good series.  At least that’s what NBC was telling me with all of the advertisements touting rave media reviews.  I must be from a different universe because the first episode I watched convinced me I would not be watching the series again.

The past couple of years have been extremely hard for law enforcement.  It is now very common to see news reports of police officers using deadly force, complete with body camera, dash camera and smartphone camera video of the events.  There have been riots, injuries, property damage and death that have resulted from the changed perception of law enforcement.

The majority of law enforcement officers are dedicated and honorable people, doing a job that most of society would not choose as a career.  Media coverage and video of the isolated incidents has changed the way our society views law enforcement.  It is my perception that people, in general, are less trusting of law enforcement now when compared to how things were 10 years ago.  There are not more bad cops out there now.  The media has put the worst law enforcement situations front and center for everyone to see.  Most news about law enforcement in the media today highlights the negative and there is very little positive as a balance.

Now we have this new cop drama on NBC, Shades of Blue.  The first episode opens with a couple of police detectives forcing entry into an apartment.  The first detective shoots and kills a man, who is sitting on a couch playing a video game when the apartment door is forced open.  The other detective surveys the situation and they conclude that the dead man was not armed.  The second detective makes a plan to cover up the bad shooting by making it look like a good shooting.  The dead man had a bag containing illegal drugs and a handgun on the couch next to him.  The second detective takes that gun, fires a couple of shots through the apartment door and then shoots her partner in his vest, thus making it look like the first detective was justified in firing his weapon.

As soon as this scene was over, I was done.  My wife kept watching, but I switched to reading a book.  Where is the entertainment value in showing police officers shooting and killing an unarmed man, then covering up the bad shooting?  Wouldn’t you think that someone in charge at NBC would have looked at the concept for this series and said that perhaps now is not a good time for such a series?  Apparently not.  My wife liked the show.  As I said, I think I’m from a different universe.

There is a slim percentage of people in law enforcement, who do bad things.  Unfortunately, the media puts the circumstances of that small percentage right in front of everyone.  This does not help the vast majority of good and honorable law enforcement officers.

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